Join Local Learning in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania at the annual American Folklore Society (AFS) meeting. More details will be added to this post over the next few weeks.
Friday: Join Local Learning staff and artists who participated in the Culture, Community, and the Classroom–Pennsylvania professional development series in an evening event and social hour.
Saturday morning, 10:30 am: Join the Local Learning showcase featuring the artists from around the state and learn from them what they have learned about presenting their art and culture to learners of all ages.
Featured artists include:
Gaston “Bonga” Jean-Baptiste
Gaston Jean-Baptiste, known as “Bonga,” is a highly accomplished, well-travelled drummer and multi-intstrumentalist from Haiti whose creativity expands into the visual arts. He has been featured with artists Grace Jones, The Rolling Stones, and Dan Zanes and currently leads his own band, The Vodou Drums of Haiti. He is an accomplished educator, teaching in schools and hosting workshops for all ages and skill levels. “The drum was my passport to the world,” says Bonga, “and through painting I can express my understanding of it.”
Madhusmita Bora “Madhu”
I am Madhu, a storyteller, a Sattriya practitioner, and an activist. I am one of the co-directors of Sattriya Dance Company (ww.sattriyadancecompany.com). Sattriya is a 500-year-old ritualistic dance and music tradition from the Hindu monasteries of Assam, in India. My purpose is to preserve and share the joy and gift of Sattriya. I feel blessed to be a lifelong student of this incredible tradition.
As a Ukrainian folk artist. I practice and teach several Ukrainian art forms: embroidery, foodways, and pysanky Easter eggs. My pysanky eggs are handmade with a traditional kistka (writing tool), beeswax, and dyes. Different designs, patterns, and techniques have been passed down through generations to symbolize and celebrate our faith. There are even specific patterns that come from specific regions.
I’ve been cosplaying for over 10 years now and you probably wouldn’t see a cosplayer and think they really know how to crochet, right? But there’s a lot of cosplay items that just look more authentic when they are crocheted and I love bringing those to life. Crochet was also perfect for me because I had been sewing my own cosplay outfits, so I knew how to construct the shape of certain clothing. Crochet had more of a freedom to make the shapes you wanted, where knitting had a bit more rules you had to follow.
I love making things with my hands. I taught myself to create piñatas. I can make the traditional form but also piñatas of cartoon characters, wedding cakes, Air Jordan sneakers, avocados, lipstick, Mexican candy, popsicles… anything I can think of! I love thinking creatively and using my sense of humor. I am the only piñata maker in the region around Erie, Pennsylvania.
I am primarily a sculptor working in ice and wood. I also play acoustic guitar, write songs, and do performance art, kinetic sculptures, murals, and portraits. Of all the tools that have passed through my hands, I am most passionate about the chainsaw. The chainsaw drops the tree. From past generations providing shade, oxygen, and majestic colors, its wood yields the image that previously existed only in my mind to be viewed and shared by all.
Wayne Boulware plays bass guitar and Anthony Jackson play drums for the gospel group, the Spiritual Messengers. Both have played other genres, such as R&B, and are songwriters. “We are deeply rooted in traditional African American gospel harmonies, call-and-response, group singing, and complex rhythms or polyrhythms. However, we are a modern gospel group and incorporate a variety of music styles, from spirituals to Soul music to reggae.”
I am a Brazilian music lover who sings and plays hand drums and percussion. I sing in Portuguese, the language of Brazil, and English. Besides my voice, I take my drums and shakers everywhere I go as I always welcome the opportunity to sing and play. I strive to preserve and bolster my Brazilian heritage through collaboration with other musicians. I cherish collaborating with others and, the more I play, the more I learn from others. As an educator, the more I learn, the more I want to teach.